Apologies to readers for I have again taken a long time to write something new and have been neglecting responding to new comments. I really am most grateful to all of you.
I had been thinking about a new post for Ramadan this year, and had thoughts about what I would write but am only now coming to the page.
My hesitation was that I felt a bit like I was back to where I was for my first Ramadan and Eid – alone in Switzerland. Had I really made so little progress in the past four years?
Never the less, I decided if I was going to be alone I would turn it into a sort of spiritual retreat.
I was off work for holiday the last two weeks of Ramadan. I did not travel anywhere as I had just flown to California for my niece’s graduation, so was tapped out financially.
My plan was to spend my days in prayer, reciting and reading the Quran, trying to learn Arabic and read some Islamic history, and meditate on Allah (swt), life, etc.
Well, I did some of that, but mostly I was really hot, tired and thirsty. We had a major heat wave during the whole month of Ramadan and I just could never get cool.
By the end of Ramadan I must admit that I was going a little stir crazy and was quite lonely.
I suppose I imagined my spiritual retreat to be a week of calm and insight – and maybe that is not how it works. It was valuable though. I did come to a few conclusions / decisions about where I wanted to take my life. And, as always, I reminded myself how much I have to be grateful for.
However, the biggest surprise was afterwards. I logged onto my blog after several months of absence, and I saw huge activity the days before and on Eid, and specifically the blog viewed was my first Eid blog and the search terms to find it were relating to spending Eid alone.
I realised that there must be so many others out there like myself who spend Ramadan and Eid alone.
So, here’s the thing — I enjoyed my Ramadan and Eid, and I am very grateful for the tremendous blessings Allah (swt) brings me every day – but it is hard to be without family for these holidays.
I think about the holidays I grew up with and, in a way, I value them even more now – especially Christmas. Not because of the religious tradition – but because of the tradition I shared with my family. Now, I don’t come from some perfect idealised family. We drive each other crazy and being cramped together during Christmas at whoever’s house we are staying at is stressful. But we love each other and have memories, customs, and familiarity.
If I had a husband and family of my own I am sure I would be learning and sharing Ramadan and Eid traditions with them. But I don’t. I won’t feel sorry for myself because I have too much in life to whine about what I don’t have.
For everyone out there who spent Ramadan and Eid alone (or at least you felt alone because you could not share it with those around you) – I get it. I understand. It’s hard. It’s lonely.
But that does not mean there are not moments to enjoy.
For me, I would go on walks each morning and each evening – before and after the worst of the heat. I sometimes listened to my favourite podcasts or just let my mind wander. During one of the podcasts a man was equating the tests given to us by Allah (swt) as the process of being chiselled into beautiful sculpture. We would all like to have things easy in life but then we would remain some amorphous blob – the tests turn us into something beautiful. It is a beautiful reminder for me when I am feeling stressed, anxious or upset.
Finally, though I probably should not admit this, I thoroughly enjoyed my first cup of coffee the morning of Eid.
What were your best moments this past Ramadan and Eid?